Season 2

Don’t know who Klára Dán von Neumann was? You’re not alone.

The first modern-style code executed on a computer was written in the 1940s by a woman named Klára Dán von Neumann–or Klári to her family and friends. And the historic program she wrote was used to optimize nuclear weapons. This season, we dive into this fascinating moment in postwar America through Klári’s work. We explore the evolution of early computers, the vital role women played in early programming, and the inescapable connection between computing and war.

This podcast is distributed by PRX and published in partnership with Scientific American. Season 2 art is by Brooke McCormick.

Primary Sources

Grasshopper in Very Tall Grass

by Klára Dán von Neumann

ENIAC Code

by Klára Dán von Neumann, from ENIAC in Action

Numerical Integration of the Barotropic Vorticity Equation

by Jule Charney, Ragnar Fjortoft, and John von Neumann. This mentions Klari in the footnote, and is an interesting application of her coding work.

Books

ENIAC In Action

by Thomas Haigh, Mark Priestley, and Crispin Rope

A New History of Modern Computing

by Thomas Haigh and Paul E. Ceruzzi

Turing’s Cathedral

by George Dyson

The Computer Boys Take Over

by Nathan Ensmenger

Broad Band

by Claire L. Evans

Recoding Gender

by Janet Abbate

The Man from the Future

by Ananyo Bhattacharya